Friday, August 31, 1984

Keats: An Alan Parsons Project Offshoot



Released: August 1984 ?

Recorded: December 1983 to March 1984

Charted: --

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: progressive rock lite


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Heaven Knows (Bardens) [3:56]
  2. Tragedy (Blunstone, Elliott) [5:01]
  3. Fight to Win (Bardens) [4:10]
  4. Walking on Ice (Paton) [3:31]
  5. How Can You Walk Away (Paton) [3:41]
  6. Turn Your Heart Around (Bardens) [3:44] (1984, --)
  7. Avalanche (Bardens) [4:06]
  8. Give It Up (Bairnson) [4:45]
  9. Ask No Questions (Bairnson) [3:25]
  10. Night Full of Questions (Blunstone, Elliott) [3:57]
  11. Hollywood Heart (Bairnson) [3:43]

Total Running Time: 44:00

The Players:

  • Colin Blunstone (vocals)
  • Ian Bairnson (guitar)
  • Pete Bardens (keyboards)
  • David Paton (bass, backing vocals)
  • Stuart Elliott (drums, percussion)
  • Stuart Cottle (saxophone, synthesizers, additional keyboard parts)


3.107 out of 5.00 (average of 8 ratings)

About the Album:

“If Toto was considered a super-star band consisting of the finest session musicians available in the US studio scene, this description applied for Keats in England as well. Consequently, the self-titled album is a milestone of contemporary rock.” RYM Members Colin Blunstone, Ian Bairnson, David Paton, and Stuart Elliott all worked together in the Alan Parsons Project, but had respectable resumes even before that. Blunstone had worked with the Zombies and as a solo artist. Bairnson and Paton had both worked with the group Pilot, best known for the song “Magic.” Elliott had been with Cockney Rebel. Pete Bardens, who’d worked with Them and Camel, rounded out the group.

Although neither Alan Parsons nor Eric Woolfson had a hand in any of the writing as they did with all the Alan Parsons Project albums, they were still both involved. Parsons lent his hand as producer and, according to, it was Woolfson who conceived the Keats project. It was his intent “to create a career for the core of the band and give them the opportunity to control their own musical output.” RYM He reportedly named the group after his favorite restaurant. GR

Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out that way. Keats didn’t go anywhere despite how closely the sound matched that of Alan Parsons Project albums. Of course, from a timing standpoint, the Alan Parsons Project’s fortunes were waning. While previous album Ammonia Avenue had gone gold and produced a top-20 hit (“Don’t Answer Me”), it would mark the last time the group would achieve gold status or a top-40 hit.

Still, this is “top-notch AOR throughout” GR even if “listeners often considered the Keats music as being too technical – lacking emotion.” RYM “The songs are slicker than the more musically and lyrically adventurous Alan Parsons Project albums. That’s saying something considering the highly polished sonic glaze Parsons gave his own work.” AMG

All Music Guide called the opening song Heaven Knows one of the album’s highlights. AMG That song and Avalance are reminiscent of Toto with the former marked by saxophone playing from Richard Cottle. “Elsewhere there are even hints of late-1980s Magnum (Fight to Win),” GR another song noted by All Music Guide as a highlight. AMG

It’s Blunstone who handles most of the vocals here. His most notable vocal with the Alan Parsons Project was on the song “Old and Wise” from their 1982 album Eye in the Sky. However, Paton takes the lead on Walking on Ice, a song he composed, and Ask No Questions, a song written by Bairnson. GR The latter “has a definite Doobies-feel in the chorus.” GR

The album’s sole single, Turn Your Heart Around, is “amongst the standouts.” GR It was written by Bardens and also turned up on Blunstone’s solo album On the Air Tonight.

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First posted 9/24/2021.

Friday, August 24, 1984

The Smiths “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” released

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

The Smiths

Writer(s): Johnny Marr, Morrissey (see lyrics here)

Released: August 24, 1984

Peak: 9 CO, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 13.0 video, 202.81 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

I discovered the Smiths in 1986 because of this song. It is a mournful plea “written from the perspective of someone in desperate need of some good luck.” SF It appeared on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack along with some of the other staples of college rock such as New Order, INXS, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Psychedelic Furs, and Orchestra Manoeuvres in the Dark. Like those other groups, though, the Smiths were already well established in the UK. I just hadn’t caught up yet.

The Smiths formed in Manchester, England in 1982. Lead singer Morrissey gave the group clever lyrics that were simultaneously maudlin and toe-tapping and Johnny Marr backed it with his jangly guitar. When Pretty in Pink came out, the Smiths had two albums under their belt and would release their classic The Queen Is Dead by year’s end.

In the tradition of great British ‘60s groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Smiths were adamant about treating albums and singles as different products. That meant the songs that climbed the charts in the UK (and were ignored stateside) were rarely featured on their albums. Their first two singles – 1983’s “Hand in Glove” and “This Charming Man” have become new wave staples. In the case of “Please Please Please,” however, it wasn’t even a single. Instead, it was the B-side of “William, It Was Really Nothing,” which reached #17 in the UK in 1984.

Morrissey later said, “Hiding it away on a B-side was sinful.” SF He explained that the record company, Rough Trade, asked “Where’s the rest of the song?” Morrissey, however, defended the length (just shy of two minutes) as “a very brief punch in the face [and] lengthening the song would, to my mind, have simply been explaining the blindingly obvious.” SF

After the Pretty in Pink soundtrack introduced me to the Smiths, I was ready to embrace them. In early 1987, they released Louder Than Bombs, a career-retrospective of their non-album singles and B-sides. It was a U.S. release that consolidated much of the material featured on the UK collections Hatful of Hollow and The World Won’t Listen into one double album. It became a pivotal album for me, introducing me to treasures such as “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “Half a Person” which had managed to fly under my radar upon their initial release. However, it was “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” which would always remain my favorite.


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First posted 12/10/2022.

Monday, August 20, 1984

The Smiths “How Soon Is Now?” released for the first time

How Soon Is Now?

The Smiths

Writer(s): Johnny Marr, Morrissey (see lyrics here)

Released: August 20, 1984

First Charted: February 9, 1985

Peak: 16 UK, 11 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.4 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 21.0 video, 185.57 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Smiths were an alternative-rock band that formed in Manchester, England in 1982. They only lasted five years, but had a significant impact on the British independent music scene and the American college-rock movement. “How Soon Is Now?” is “a hallmark of the brief yet significant songwriting partnership of [singer] Morrissey and [guitarist Johnny] Marr.” TB It became one of the group’s most celebrated songs “without being particularly representative of the band.” XFM This is “very much a Johnny Marr song, its teaming, bubbling guitars and shimmering riff seethe with a masculinity and stridence that were rarely Smiths trademarks.” XFM

The record company originally released it as the B-side of “William, It Was Really Nothing” in August 1984. However, the song got picked up by night-time British radio and became the most-requested track on request shows by DJs John Peel and others. WK It was then featured on the compilation Hatful of Hollow compilation in November. That month it was also released as a single in the United States and was accompanied by a video which the band had no involvement in making. Morrissey said he detested the video. The song failed to chart in the U.S. In January 1985, it was released as a single in the UK and a month later resurfaced again on the Meat Is Murder album. On its second go-round, the single reached #24 on the UK charts. The song had become a club favorite and it was expected to do better on the charts. However, it had probably been hurt by being released in multiple forms before finally being released as a single in its own right. WK As the band’s producer, John Porter, said, “the Smiths’ fans already had it.” WK In 1992, it was re-released and got to #16.

The song has connections to early ‘50s rock and roll. Marr recorded “How Soon Is Now?” with bandmates Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce during a jam session. Porter thought the basic riff needed something more, which led to an impromptu jam session of Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right.” Marr worked in his chord progression for “How Soon Is Now?” (then known as “Swamp”), inspiring the song’s arrangement. WK Marr was also “inspired by Bo Diddley’s distinctive syncopated shuffle guitar style” WK and, in fact, the rhythm of “How Soon Is Now?” has been compared to Diddley’s “Mona.” WK

Morrissey’s “ever-ambiguous lyrics continued to fuel speculation about the singer’s sexuality.” TB Written about his crippling shyness, “How Soon Is Now?” became “an anthem for the alienated and socially isolated.” SF The title came from a question posed in one of Morrissey’s favorite books, Popcorn Venus, a feminist film study by Marjorie Rosen. SF


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First posted 10/14/2021; last updated 4/1/2023.

Saturday, August 11, 1984

Bangles “Hero Takes a Fall” charted

Hero Takes a Fall

The Bangles

Writer(s): Susanna Hoffs, Vicki Peterson (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 11, 1984

Peak: 59 AR, 10 CO, 96 UK, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.3 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The all-girl group the Bangles formed in Los Angeles in 1981. They would reach massive commercial success in the mid-‘80s with the #1 songs “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Eternal Flame” as well as the Prince-penned #2 song “Manic Monday.” However, they didn’t find fame immediately, getting started on an indie label and gaining an audience with college rock audiences before going mainstream.

Originally known as the Bangs, they were formed by sisters Vicki (guitar) and Debbie Peterson (drums) with Susanna Hoffs (guitar) and Annette Zilinskas (bass). All four handled vocals. In 1982, they released an EP entitled The Real World. Annette left the band and was replaced by Michael Steele, from the all-female band the Runaways.

It was this lineup which released All Over the Place, the band’s first full-length album, in 1984. The album “openly embraces the folk-rock and garage rock influences that fueled their earliest music” AMG although it also showed “some of their rough edges were already being buffed away.” AMG

The lead single, “Hero Takes a Fall,” was written by Susanna and Vicki “about how arrogance can lead to downfall, especially in matters of the heart.” SF Vicki explained, “We were thinking along very classical lines of classical tragedies where there’s often a flaw to the hero…There’s often an Achilles heel, something that takes him down at some point, and we were interested in that concept.” SF

Hoffs said, “When I look back on my writing relationship with Vicki I think that song was kind of a milestone in terms of our collaboration, where we just we sat down with an idea in mind to do something that had a good beat and would really be fun to play live. We ended up releasing it as a single and it got a lot of airplay on the college radio circuit. Having been playing on the club scene in LA, we started to kind of elevate from playing smaller venues up to small theaters.” SF


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First posted 3/11/2023.

Saturday, August 4, 1984

Prince’s Purple Rain hit #1 in U.S. for first of 24 weeks

Purple Rain

Prince & the Revolution

Released: June 25, 1984

Peak: #124 US, #4 UK, #113 CN, #11 AU, 110 DF

Sales (in millions): 14.48 US, 0.6 UK, 26.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: R&B/pop


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to charts.

  1. Let’s Go Crazy (Prince) [4:39] (7/18/84, 12 BB, 12 CB, 12 GR, 14 RR, 11 RB, 19 AR, 7 UK, 2 CN, 10 AU, 1 DF)
  2. Take Me with U (Prince) [3:54] (with Apollonia, 1/25/85, 25 US, 27 CB, 16 GR, 17 RR, 40 RB, 7 UK, 10 DF)
  3. The Beautiful Ones (Prince) [5:13] (13 DF)
  4. Computer Blue (Prince/John L. Nelson/Wendy & Lisa/Dr. Fink) [3:59] (11 DF)
  5. Darling Nikki (Prince) [4:14] (2 DF)
  6. When Doves Cry (Prince) [5:54] (5/16/84, 15 BB, 14 CB, 14 GR, 14 RR, 18 RB, 31 AR, 4 UK, 13 CN, 11 AU, 1 DF)
  7. I Would Die 4 U (Prince) [2:49] (11/28/84, 8 US, 10 CB, 5 GR, 7 RR, 11 RB, 58 UK, 12 CN, 96 AU, 7 DF)
  8. Baby I’m a Star (Prince) [4:24] (7 DF)
  9. Purple Rain (Prince) [8:41] (9/21/84, 2 BB, 12 DG, 12 CB, 2 GR, 12 RR, 4 RB, 18 AR, 6 UK, 3 CN, 41 AU, 1 DF)

Total Running Time: 43:51


4.637 out of 5.00 (average of 36 ratings)


“A landmark that solidified Prince’s standing as the preeminent pop genius of his generation” – Pitchfork’s Carvell Wallace


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Prince was born into music. His parents were in a jazz combo and although his father left when he was seven, Prince would take up piano and later teach himself how to play multiple instruments. He was only nineteen when he landed a record deal with Warner Bros. in 1977. Although he “spent his first few albums…searching for an identity of his own,” CS he became known as known as “a multi-instrumentalist and prodigious musical upstart” PF who “famously stonewalled music press royalty…You were not to know who he was or where he was from. You were not to fully comprehend his race nor his gender.” PF

With the release of his fifth album, 1999, in 1982, “the Minneapolis dynamo demonstrated that he could write for the pop charts and not only his multicultural cult of funkateers.” TL The album generated top-ten hits with “Little Red Corvette” and “Delirious,” setting up Prince to embark on the biggest commercial success of his career.

The Movie:

For his next move, Prince decided to co-write and star in a film that was “a highly dramatized account of his rise to stardom.” CS It “cracks open the shell of his reclusive sex alien persona to tell something of an origin story.” PF It was a “schmaltzy tale with Prince taking the role of The Kid, beset by parental woes and the inevitable girl trouble.” MF Despite “cringeworthy acting” BBC and “a laughable script,” TL the movie served as “a big-screen showcase” JE for some “riveting performance footage” TL of some of the soundtrack’s songs “in tear-the-roof-off ‘live’ versions set in a Minneapolis club.” JE “The moment Prince sang ‘Baby I’m a Star,'’ he was one.” EW’12

The movie was an unexpected hit at the box office; it cost only $7 million and made over $68 million. NME It ranks in the top ten of the Dave’s Music Database list of the Top 50 Music Movies. “The film turned this diminutive Midwestern oddball into a pop-culture giant on par with Elvis, the Beatles, and Michael Jackson.” BB

The Soundtrack:’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine said it was designed “as the project that would make him a superstar, and, surprisingly, that is exactly what happened.” AM Purple Rain would “catapult him to megastardom.” TL

“By streamlining his songs and moving his guitar-hero wizardry up front” TL Prince created an album that was “more focused and ambitious than any of his previous records.” AM Prince demonstrates his “ability to fashion the most avant garde pop imaginable while still making you want to shake your booty.” BBC The album “manages to deftly thread the needle between a dazzling array of genres: disaffected synth pop, tongue-wagging hair metal, dark R&B, and pleading soul.” PF Prince “plays rock better than rock musicians, composes better than jazz guys, and performs better than everyone, all without ever abandoning his roots as a funk man.” PF

The soundtrack spawned four top-ten hits and spent a whopping 6 months atop the album chart. It was big right out of the gate, debuting at #11 with sales of a million and a half. It hit #1 four weeks later, WK knocking Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. from the summit. Suddenly “the fact that Prince was the most gifted musician in modern times – well, at least since Stevie Wonder – wasn’t in question.” TL “If Prince had quit music after Purple Rain “he would still be on the Mount Rushmore of American music.” PM

The Songs:

Here’s a breakdown of each of the individual songs.

“Let’s Go Crazy”
“In arguably the best intro in pop history, Prince spends the first 40 seconds of this smash single playing gospel preacher, telling us to forget about the afterworld and start enjoying this one.” BB This song “thematically picks up where the titular title track from 1999 leves off, namely: ‘We’re all going to die one way or another, so let’s rock while we’re here.’” PF

“It was obvious that Prince was attempting to find the perfect pop paradise for his crossover dreams. And, as he would discover, when it rains it pours.” VB On the “major metallic-funk hit” GS Prince “goes for a monstrous synth-and-guitar sonic attack turning the song into a hair-metal and synth-pop classic at once.” GS Prince rips “the kind of ostentatiously speedy Van Halen-esque guitar work that would become the audio version of the generation’s early MTV aesthetic.” PF

“Take Me with U”

This is the closest thing the album has to a dud, PF but Prince’s work, like Stevie Wonder, “brims with so many compelling musical ideas that they can be found hidden in even the weakest of tracks.” PF “After some frenzied drum rolls and a paranoid keyboard riff, Prince u-turns into a sweet psych-rock duet with Apollonia, his costar in the film. It’s a song about love conquering all, and the frilly orchestral synth sounds add to the neo-‘60s vibe.” BB This song was originally intended for the Apollonia 6 album. Reportedly, Prince played all the instruments on the song except for the string overdubs. WK

“The Beautiful Ones”

While most of the Purple Rain album was recorded as a band, this song, “Darling Nikki,” and “When Doves Cry” are solo Prince recordings. WK This song presents “Prince the serpentine…at his most coiled, his falsetto vocals syrupy and tightly wound until they explode into a wounded animal scream.” PF “Despite those heavy synths and hollow Linn drums—go-to electronic effects on early Prince albums – ‘The Beautiful Ones’ doesn’t play like some bad ‘80s New Wave song. This lush ballad begins with Prince asking, ‘Is it him, or is it me?’ and over the next five minutes, he gives his would-be lover an increasingly intense sales pitch. By the end, he’s down on his knees, shredding that guitar of his. Let’s see the other guy beat that.” BB

“Computer Blue”

Originally written as a 14 minute opus, this song had to be edited down to make room for “Take Me with U.” WKThe opening dialogue between Revolution band members Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman “may either be about an impending sex act or an impending cup of tea.” PF “The ensuing song is a club jam about the common ’80s theme of existential technological alienation.” PF It incorporates “the unlisted ‘Father’s Song’ that showcases Prince’s talent for crafting a surprisingly emotional narrative out of a chord progression and a guitar solo (foreshadowing, perhaps?) before devolving into feedback, wordless screaming, and the intro to the crowning achievement of the first half.” PF

“Darling Nikki”

“The only thing rawer than the guitars are the lyrics, all about a porn-loving gal not shy about pleasuring herself in hotel lobbies.” BB This is “a thumping, loping, grinding fuck song about getting dirty with and getting played by the timeless femme fatale.” PF “Almost any other male artist from that period would have turned Darling Nikki into a misogynistic nightmare. But Prince frames it as finally meeting his sexual superior, and instead of grossing us out, the song leaves listeners in the same position as the protagonist: shattered and begging for more.” CQ

The lyrics made it a target of the Parents Music Resource Center, spearheaded by Tipper Gore. “The watchdog group was literally formed in response to this paisley-funk heavy breather, which builds to one awesome climax after another.” EW’12 “The group pushed for parental advisory labels on albums with what they deemed questionable content. WK

“Salaciousness aside, ‘Darling Nikki’ is a stunning piece of music.” BB The “quivering undulating coda, impossibly finds the musical link between burlesque backing bands and thrash metal double bass pedal rumbles.” PF The distorted vocals at the end of the song are the result of recording an extra verse during a rain storm and then playing them backwards. NME

“When Doves Cry”

“The album reaches a frenzied zenith with When Doves Cry.” CQ “Nowhere are Prince’s talents – as composer, producer, guitarist, vocalist, visionary – on better display than” PM on “the grinding, angular” TL masterpiece “that would turn the Purple One into a global superstar.” PM It was the top-selling single of 1984 BB and the biggest song of Prince’s career. The single preceded the album by a month and caught everyone off-guard with its unusual bass-free sound. Critic Dave Marsh called it “the most influential single record of the eighties.” MA The song is featured in the book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999.

The song “doesn’t just open with one of the greatest guitar flourishes ever put to tape, but also explores the tension between real life and dreams, truth and fancy, future sex and current not-sex, in a way that would make Hamlet proud.” CQ The confessional song features Prince’s “most pointedly personal lyrics yet” PF as he “fears he’s becoming like his emotionally unavailable parents:” BB “Maybe I’m just like my father/Too bold/Maybe you’re just like my mother/She’s never satisfied.” The “steadily unfolding melodic progressions…expertly capture the helpless confessional pleading of a man trying to figure out who he is and why it hurts so damn much.” PF

“I Would Die 4 U”

Next up is “the pop perfection of I Would Die 4 U,” PM which “hits the ear like a cool breeze over sweaty skin.” CQ PM It is “a celebratory, if lyrically morose, jam distinguished by a vast swaths of new wave synth, deep bounce and an insistent high hat.” PF Lyrically, there is debate as to “whether this dance floor favorite is about the connection between god and man, as many fans suggest, or simply the spirit of devotion between two lovers.” BB

This song, “Baby I’m a Star,” and “Purple Rain” were recorded live at the First Avenue Club in Minneapolis on August 3, 1983. Overdubs and edits were added later. The show was a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theater and marked the first appearance of Wendy Melvoin as a guitarist in Prince’s band. WK

“Baby I’m a Star”

“As he wrote the Purple Rain album, Prince was already thinking about the movie, and he knew damn well he was about to break big. Baby, I’m a Star is his early victory lap,” BB “serving notice that he’s greater than we could have ever imagined (turned out he was right) and that we need either get on board or get left.” PF “‘You might not know it now, but I are – I’m a star,’ Prince tells a global audience about to be rocked in ways it can’t begin to understand.” BB

“Purple Rain”

It all wraps up with “the gut-wrenching title ballad,” PM an “epic and uncharacteristic arena jam” PF which Rolling Stone magazine said recalls Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel.” “From the angelic choirs singing the hook through the apocalyptic final guitar solo and the long, gentle denouement” CQ Prince is “taking on the world of stadium rock and beating it at its own game.” MF

A couple of sources have written that the title comes from a lyric in the America song “Ventura Highway.” WK As for the lyrics for “Purple Rain,” Prince initially reached out to Stevie Nicks, but she said, “I listened to it and I just got scared…I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me.’” NME He also reached out to Journey’s Jonathan Cain when he worried the song sounded too similar to “Faithfully.” Cain decided the songs only shared a few chords and gave his blessing. NME

The song was originally an 11-minute opus that was whittled down to the eight-minute version on the album and then edited further for the single version. A verse and chorus were cut because their focus on money didn’t fit. NME The song “is a baptism, a washing clean of sins and a chance at redemption, even if the words don’t make any sense, (and to most people they don’t) the vastness of the arrangement, the grandiosity of the soloing, the pleading of the vocals reaches you, makes you cry, makes you feel free.” PF It is “one of the most affecting blues soul laments ever recorded” BBC and a fitting “tour de force” BBC to cap off a “rare critical and commercial success that justifies every scrap of hyperbolic praise.” BB


A 2017 reissue of the album included a remastered version of the original album, a disc of previously unreleased material from the era, a disc of singles and B-sides, and a DVD of a live 1985 performance.

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First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 7/11/2024.